By Heather Nelson

City of stars,

Are you shining just for me?

I saw “La La Land” with my sister last week. The film’s plot has seeped its way into my brain, the soundtrack on a constant loop in my mind. I can’t stop thinking about how the film connects to my life. 

I left the theater with tears steaming down my cheeks. For those of you that haven’t seen the movie, it focuses on two dreamers, Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), who wish to find success in Los Angeles. Mia is an aspiring actress, and Sebastian is a jazz musician. The two meet, fall in love, of course, and try to make their dreams come true. 

As the story unraveled, I found myself feeling deeply connected to the characters. I’m not an actress or musician, but as a writer, I find myself struggling in the same way the characters do. I don’t live in LA, but I’ve traveled to different, (just a teeny bit) bigger city to search for available writing jobs. …just searching for happiness amidst the cruel world. Desperately wanting out of a life you didn’t dream for yourself as a child. 

Mia and Sebastian face rejection. I, too, have faced rejection through the form of (mostly) email. Rejection can be challenging. In the film, rejection brings about feelings of uncertainty. I’ve felt this more frequently than I’d like to admit. The characters also struggle with identity. I struggle(d) with that, too. I’ve wondered if writing is the career path for me, and how much easier it might be if I just gave up and found a new passion.

But this won’t work. Passions don’t just disappear. You’ll leave yourself wondering what could’ve been if you hadn’t given up. This motivates me most days. I’m certain that I was put on the Earth to write. It’s like “La La Land” — the two characters have their own passions, neither character can let their passion go. I feel this tug, too.  

So, as I watched the finale to “La La Land,” I thought about these things: 

You can’t compromise. You can’t change yourself. You can’t stop dreaming or working toward your dreams. Because those dreams can come true.

Here’s to the ones who dream,
Foolish as they may seem

A toast to 2016


By Heather Nelson

When they go low, we go high. — Michelle Obama

2016, you were quite a low. I’d hoped for better. I’d planned for better. I could complain about how much my year sucked and how many low points I went through, but I won’t. I learned incredibly tough life lessons. 

I was so sure that 2016 was going to be it for me — I’d find the job I wanted, my other half, and fulfill all of my life’s dreams. I’m far from checking off all of my list. 

Life tested me. I spent time on people (men), who weren’t worth my time. I lost friends, who I’d thought would be around forever. I thought therapy would “fix” me.  

I poured myself into a blog that I thought would eventually bring me success in my writing career. I moved (only three hours from home) to pursue it. Instead, the proverbial rug was pulled out from underneath me, and I parted ways with the blog. I’m glad I did.

I spent too much time worrying about how to please other people. It exhausted me. The people around me sucked energy out of me but never replenished it. It was a toxic environment. And I had convinced myself it wasn’t.

At first, I felt like a failure for picking up and moving back home. I realized, though, that the plans you make for yourself aren’t always the plans the Big Guy has for you. And while I have a tough time looking to Him for guidance, I believe everything happens for a reason. 
I’m still not working in the field I want to be. On my low days, I dwell on it. I wonder if my path in life is through writing. I wonder if I should give up and pursue other ventures. And when I’m feeling that low, I get little reminders to keep fighting.

Life’s tests, though, strengthened me.
I’m more confident in myself, more aware of my worth. I’ve met incredible people, who uplift me. (And my oldest friends continue to do so.) My family remains to be my biggest source of support. 

2016, you brought some really tough truths to the surface for me. You tested my will. You pushed me further than I thought I could handle sometimes. I’m not sad to see the year come to an end. …Because with each new year comes a restart, a refresh. What has the prospect of 2017 brought us? Hope. 



By Heather Nelson

Twelve years ago, on a crisp October night in St. Louis, Red Sox centerfielder Johnny Damon hit a lead-off home run to start game four of the 2004 World Series. Flash foward 12 years later, this time a warm night in Cleveland, Cubs leadoff hitter, Dexter Fowler, blasted a home run to begin game seven.  

Eerily familiar. 

The 2004 Red Sox broke an 86-year curse that night. The 2016 Cubs? They broke a 108-year curse that November night. 

As a sixth grader, watching that game in 2004, I didn’t understand the significance of the game I was watching. I had some clue — the shots back to bars in Boston; the post-game phone call to my cousin, who lived in Boston; the Sam Adams my dad and neighbors drank; the mere fact that I got to stay up late on a school night watching baseball. But, I didn’t understand the years of agony that Sox fans endured. I barely understood how much sports meant to people; I was just figuring this out. 

Last night changed that for me. I know fans of the Cubs — real fans, who’ve stuck it out during the hard times. I also understand sports on a much different level because I live and breathe them. And yet, last night felt extremely familiar for me. Former members of the Red Sox family peppered the teams in the series. On the Cubs: Theo and Lester and Ross and Rizzo. On the Tribe: Tito and Napoli and Crisp. Key men that have helped my team win over the years… 

I felt a certain connection to the Cubs (mostly because I’ve never really liked Cleveland). When Theo left Boston to go to Chicago, I knew great things would transpire. I tried to latch onto the Cubs as my “National League team” but I never paid as close attention as I meant to, and it’s just extremely hard to invest your full self into two teams. Still, for me, it felt right to root for Chicago once Boston was eliminated. 

While watching the game Wednesday night, I had flashbacks to 2004. An anxious energy filled the room 12 years ago, but we never gave up hope that the Sox would pull this off. The same thing happened last night. I got texts from a few friends, who knew I’d be watching. “Who you got tonight?” I told each person that I had faith in the Cubs and that I believed they had the momentum — homefield or not. (Heck, the Sox didn’t win it on homefield the first two times, most recently.) Last night, I was the only one in the Nelson house actively rooting for the Cubs. And yes, I was nervous for them.

The game dragged on, and my anxiety — for a team I’m not even truly invested in — worsened. Cleveland tied the game late, while I was on the phone with my boyfriend, who bet on the Tribe to win. I told him he was bad luck and quickly hung up. (I mean, I wore the same shirt and hat for good mojo.) At that point, I questioned Chicago’s ability to come back and win. I atill had faith, but I was prepared for heartbreak. And in the 10th inning, it happened. 

Cubs fans alive breathed a sigh of relief, and the deceased rolled over in their graves. The Cubs won. Generations celebrated. No more curse. Theo Epstein dubbed some-kind-of magician. Jon Lester earned the win. Grandpa Ross slammed a dinger. Anthony Rizzo with a hand in the final out. 

How did this happen?

I sat on my couch stunned, refreshing my Twitter feed. Twitter served as some sort of validation that I hadn’t been dreaming. I got to relive that feeling that sports gives you when you see players’ (and a city’s) dreams come to fruition. I had flashbacks to 11-year-old me dancing in jubilation after witnessing one of the biggest sports moments of the century. I got to taste another one last night — this one is even bigger.

On November 2, 2016, the Chicago Cubs set free all those chained by the “curse.” The Cubs reminded America why baseball is a beautiful pastime, rich with history. They gave us that fuzzy feeling that’s been hard to find lately. And, my, doesn’t it feel great to feel like a kid, again? 

An Open Letter to Big Papi


By Heather Nelson

(Published October 11, 2016)


Dear Big Papi,


Thank you.

Eleven-year-old Heather loved you, adored you. Without Big Papi the Red Sox wouldn’t be who they are today. The team I came to know and love (and hate) featured a character known for smashing dingers and flashing his toothy grin.

“Is it Paaahhhpi or Paaaaapi?” I remember asking my dad. And I never forgot.

Eleven-year-old me knew nothing about how terrible you played first base (or why that even mattered). This budding baseball fan didn’t understand the grind that you put in to earn a starting spot on a major league team.

But I recognized greatness. I recognized the lovable character, the charisma beaming from you.

In 2004, you made our (Red Sox Nation) hearts sing. Deemed the Yankee killer. That walk-off home run in Game 4 that would ultimately seal the Yankees’ fate. Ortiz: the hero. Ortiz: the Yankee-slayer. Ortiz: home run hitter. Ortiz: clutch-man. Ortiz: Boston’s guy.

Thank you, Large Father, for giving this sixth-grade sports gal ammunition against the Yankee boys in class. One mention of your name made them squirm. (This trick still works.) Admired by Boston and loathed by all else. Bases loaded, one out, ninth inning? Don’t pitch to Papi.

David Ortiz. No. 34 on your back, but No. 1 in our hearts. The face of a franchise. The star of my childhood. The 13-season veteran. A nine-time All Star, ALCS MVP, World Series MVP, home run leader. A Boston legend. (But not one of those folklore kind.)

Big Papi, someday, I’ll tell my kids about you. How you captured my heart and made me sad to see you depart. How you carried us through three World Series wins, and outlived the “Chicken and Beer” scandal.  You even outlasted A-Rod. Lovable Papi and “Don’t Mess With Me” Papi. The guy who’d do anything for his teammates. I’ll tell my kids about how you genuinely loved the game of baseball, and how you never wanted your time to end.

I attribute my love of baseball to the 2004 Red Sox team — it’s when I fully devoted myself to be a tortured Sox fan. But, you ended that streak for many. You opened our eyes to a whole new world: winning. I couldn’t imagine rooting for any other team. The Red Sox embody charisma, grit, fantasy and everything I love about the sport. It’s hard to imagine life without Big Papi a part of the Red Sox. No one will take your place, Big Papi. “Papi, you are the only, only, only….”

Some people mark their years with birthdays; I marked mine with Red Sox seasons.

Even though it’s only been a day since, I’ll always remember your final game as a Red Sox player. How the team couldn’t deliver, and was swept in the ALDS. That final game at home — your final at bat. You earned a walk; there wasn’t a good pitch for you to take it away for us. I’ll remember angrily watching the opposing team celebrate on our turf, but the Fenway Faithful chanting, “one more year” while I did in my room.

I won’t forget your face — the smile completely gone. Sadness swept over you. One last salute to the crowd. “Papi, Papi, Papi….”

Big Papi, there hasn’t been a player that’s touched our hearts like you have. You made it impossible to miss a game, for fear we might miss a milestone. You brought us excitement filled baseball. Big Papi, you stole our hearts. You made me break that rule — the “no crying in baseball” one. And you might’ve broken it yourself.

Thank you for making 11 year-old me fall in love with baseball.


Heather, a lifelong fan

What’s the problem with Kansas football?


By Heather Nelson

(Published September 22, 2016)

The University of Kansas football team secured their first win, in almost two seasons, in the team’s home opener a few weeks ago. Now, as Kansas heads into the bye week, they sit at a 1-2 record.

Rhode Island was never supposed to beat Kansas. Kansas maybe had a shot at beating Ohio. Memphis was always going to bury Kansas. Thankfully, the Jayhawks will escape this week without a loss, but there also won’t be a chance for a second win under Coach Beaty.

Will the Jayhawks secure a win for the rest of the season? Yeah, probably not. Will there ever be hope for the Kansas football team? Yeah, probably not. It will get depressing with each week that passes….

I read some interesting things about the football team earlier this week. Lawrence Journal-World columnist Tom Keegan discussed that the football program’s problem is not only the revolving door of coaches, but the University’s athletic director.

He said that, “Zenger is the first Kansas athletic director since Dutch Lonborg to fire one of his own hires (Chuck Mather).” …that was back in 1957.

Is Zenger to blame for the problem coaches that have been hired in recent years? Did this string of bad hires — starting with Turner Gil — drive the football team into the ground? It’s hard to say, but Kansas did consistently get worse with each season.

Mark Mangino era

2002-03: 2-10

2003-04: 6-7

2004-05: 4-7

2005-06: 8-5, 8-1

2006-07: 6-6, 3-5

2007-08: 12-1, 7-1

2008-09: 8-5, 4-4

2009-10: 5-7, 1-7

Turner Gill era

2010-11: 3-9, 1-7

2011-12: 2-10, 0-9

Charlie Weis era*

2012-13: 1-11, 0-9

2013-14: 3-9, 1-8

2014-15: 3-9, 1-8

*Clint Bowen interim 2014

David Beaty era

2015-16: 0-12, 0-9

2016-17: 1-2*


Keegan argues that Zenger’s time is limited, especially because the chances of Kansas winning are terrible. It would appear that way, too. Zenger took over the office of athletic director in 2011 after Lew Perkins retired. Under Perkins, the University’s two revenue sports — football and basketball — earned significant wins in the same year. An Orange Bowl win and a National Championship in 2008. Since then, only basketball has come close….

Am I asking for Zenger’s fire? Maybe. Do I have a solution or a suggested hire? Nope. I wish there was a Tom Osborne–archetype hiding out in Kansas somewhere. Something that would bring back Kansas football lore, and glory days — ha!

I think there’s one thing for sure, and something that I’ve always accepted, about the University of Kansas: It will never be a football school. But there’s nothing wrong with expecting more of the program, especially when the athletics department keeps spending money on coaches to build the team and supply wins.

I hope someday, in my lifetime, Kansas will finish with a winning record. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

NBA, please revisit the one-and-done rule


Dear NBA,

It’s time to revisit the one-and-done rule.

The University of Kansas basketball program has produced seven one-and-done basketball players. Seven players who played one year with the Jayhawks before moving on to the fame and fortune of the NBA.

The one-and-done rule didn’t exist until 2005, when, then commissioner David Stern, called for a higher age-limit to enter the NBA. The concession closed the collective bargaining agreement, but possibly hinders the potential of talented players who could enter the NBA out of high school.

And that agreement was over ten years ago. It’s time for a change.

I don’t consider myself an advocate for encouraging people to completely bypass college to enter professional sports. Nor have I ever voiced concerns against it. I hate the one-and-done rule, but maybe that’s because it harms more than it helps?

It’s hard to know for certain if a high school athlete will make it in the professional sports world. Sometimes it’s still hard after an athlete spends four years in collegiate athletics.

Basketball is even more unique. Unlike most sports —baseball, soccer, football — it’s a five-on-five game. One star player can change the game — and almost nothing is more valuable than the first round pick in the NBA draft. It means you’re one of the few, the elite.

So, if the one-and-done rule isn’t working, what’s the solution?

There’s been a lot of time spent talking about amateurism and paying athletes to play at the collegiate level. I don’t think that solves the one-and-done problem. Others have discussed a “two-and-done” rule. I don’t think that solves the problem either.

Instead, I think the NBA needs to reconsider the rule altogether. The NBA needs to adopt something similar to baseball’s draft rule.

In baseball’s official draft rules, it states that these are the categories of eligible players to be drafted:

  •    High school players, if they have graduated from high school and have not yet attended college or junior college;
  •    College players, from four-year colleges who have either completed their junior or senior years or are at least 21 years old; and
  •    Junior college players, regardless of how many years of school they have completed

After the selections, a club retains the rights to sign a selected player until about two months after the draft, or until the player enters/returns to college. If a player is not drafted and does not sign with a club, he may be re-drafted in a future year’s draft — as long as he meets the above criteria.

It would also be beneficial if athletes were allowed to meet with an agent without costing them NCAA eligibility. It only makes sense that a player (and family) would want to consult with an agent who could walk the athlete through the draft process. The player would sever ties with the agent if he remained un-drafted and wished to play at the university-level.

If the NBA were to adopt rules like this someone like Cliff Alexander would’ve had a chance to return to KU, and players like Josh Selby could’ve entered the draft straight out of high school.

A guideline like that also frees the athletes from having to “wait out” their time in college. It’s obvious when a phenomenal athlete joins a university’s basketball squad that he’s not going to be focused on academics. Wouldn’t you be dreaming about the NBA and making millions, too?

So, maybe former commissioner David Stern advocated that the one-and-done rule “produced better players” to allow for “better basketball,” but I’m not buying it.

Look at the system that the University of Kentucky and Duke have created (and thrived in). John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski market to the one-and-done players; the coaches don’t discourage from entering the draft and win titles because of it.

I still hate it. I’m glad KU has only had seven one-and-done guys ever. (Joel Embiid, Ben McLemore, Andrew Wiggins, Xavier Henry, Kelly Oubre, Jr., Cliff Alexander, and Josh Selby)

NBA, get rid of the one-and-done rule. Throw it in the garbage. Start over. One year in college doesn’t magically add maturity and talent to a player. Maybe those players would be better in the D-Leagues or on international soil…Selby?

The one-and-done rule needs to be re-visited. Let these ballers chase their dreams — maybe the next MJ or Lebron is out there waiting for his chance.

It’s time for change.

Lessons from ‘OJ Made in America”


By Heather Nelson

(Published June 29, 2016)

Orenthal James Simpson had that certain charm that let him get away with certain things. “Juice,” as he was known to his fans and friends, had a way about him that you don’t see today with modern athletes. O.J. Simpson was able to get away with whatever he wanted, including murder.

I watched O.J. Made in America, the 30 for 30 documentary event directed by Ezra Edelman, knowing the basics of the case. I knew about O.J. Simpson’s time with USC and about his football stardom. I knew he was accused of a double-murder and was found not guilty. I knew that O.J. was later jailed for robbery. I knew about the trial’s media craze.

I didn’t know about O.J.’s background — about how he spent his life working to be well-liked and accepted and famous. I didn’t know about the racial tensions in Los Angeles like that the police brutality had gotten out of hand. Or that the police officers who beat Rodney King to death went free. I didn’t know O.J. separated himself from the race issue. And I definitely didn’t comprehend how well-liked O.J., the football player, was — so loved that it seemed preposterous to believe he killed two people, one being his wife.

I found myself becoming slightly more enraged as the hours dragged on. I grew up in post-O.J. America. All I’d ever known about the case, or about O.J., was that most people believed (and knew) he was a murderer. Of course, my opinion of him was shaped by those around me, so I never once considered pre-trial O.J. — the O.J. that America knew well before he committed the double-murder.

The two major themes in this documentary, race and fame, encompass all that O.J. was — and wasn’t. O.J. obsessed over obtaining fame. In the opening of the documentary he said, “As a kid growing up in the ghetto, one of the things I wanted most was not money, it was fame. I wanted to be known. I wanted people to say, ‘Hey, there goes O.J.’”

Director Edelman spends plenty of time revealing O.J. the star: O.J. at USC, O.J. with the Buffalo Bills, O.J.’s partnership with Hertz. I started to believe in his charm, to understand the man that America loved so much. White America loved him because he separated himself from race. But, like many African Americans, I take issue with his stance which was selfish and careless about paving the way for others who would follow him.

If you didn’t already know, O.J. didn’t fit in with the rest of black America. He didn’t weigh in on the racial issues of the time (Los Angeles was the center for racial inequality during O.J.’s college years and beyond as there were major riots and, notably, Rodney King’s wrongful death on the hands of the LAPD). While the Black Panther Party and athletes like Muhammad Ali brought race to the forefront, O.J. served as the counter-revolutionary athlete. O.J. made people feel good, and he made people forget about the more serious issues plaguing the country. It doesn’t seem too hard to comprehend why he was welcomed by white society. He wasn’t slamming harsh truths in their faces or calling for racial equality. O.J. Simpson’s selfish ambitions made him what he was — an icon.

Enter Nicole Brown. O.J. claimed Nicole as his the very first time he met her. He bought her a house and a car. It wasn’t long before O.J. made Nicole forever his through matrimony. According to the documentary, O.J. felt entitled to anything he wanted, and I don’t doubt that Nicole was another of O.J.’s possessions. O.J. told Nicole how to be, where to be, and he never gave up his control over her. It was obvious he was jealous. Nicole’s murder was preceded by numerous domestic violence calls to 911 and logs of her abuse written in a private journal. But, O.J. loved Nicole, so he’d never hurt her, right?

Everything that followed the deaths of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson was pure chaos. The Bronco chase. The media craze — cameras allowed in the courtroom. (WHAT?) The legal teams. Black America ready to defend Simpson. The gloves. The DNA evidence. Johnnie Cochran. The deliberation. It all culminated to O.J.’s acquittal.

That was payback for Rodney King.

The interviews with the jurors (and with O.J.’s former agent) were most telling. It’s clear to me, now, how O.J. was set free. The jurors, who were presented some telling evidence (before OJ tried the gloves on), decided to make a statement. Blacks would not go unnoticed or suffer injustices again. By letting O.J., a black man go free, it gave hope to the many African Americans who had been accused of a crime. It didn’t matter if O.J. committed the murders — to blacks, it mattered that he walked free and was given a second chance to live his life.

Now, O.J. Simpson sits in jail for robbery. All the witnesses testified against him, and maybe everything about that case wasn’t fair. But should O.J. really complain about fairness?

O.J. Made in America left me thinking. Has our country progressed as far as we think it has? Or is race still a big issue, especially in the justice system? Are there racial (and other) inequalities still existing in America? How do we fix them? How do sports serve as a means to speak on (or not speak on) these issues? It feels like this same struggle continues today. It’s déjà vu. And I’m not sure how to fix it.

To watch all parts of the documentary, click here.

An apology to Minor League Baseball


By Heather Nelson

(Published June 13, 2016)

I’m breaking from my usual format to write about something that’s been on my mind this past week. I woke up to a text Wednesday morning, a day after my weekly Storm Chasers write-up was posted.

“So, you don’t think minor league teams matter?” the text read.

Immediately, I wondered what I’d said that had given someone this impression. I looked back to my post.

…Or is it because the Royals (and Storm Chasers) experienced so much success the past couple of years that it’s time for suffering? It’s only June — and Triple-A doesn’t really matter all that much. This I can say with some certainty: The Royals/Storm Chasers aren’t doomed.

This comment is misleading. I feel the need to clarify a few things — mostly because as a baseball fan I can’t let this comment hang.

Do I think minor league teams are important? Of course I do. Do I think most people care about the wins and losses of their MLB team’s affiliate(s)? No. Does that make the minor leagues any less legitimate? No.

Minor League Baseball allows for player development and provides opportunities for players not yet called up to compete in Major League Baseball. The minor leagues are divided into five classes: Triple-A, Double-A, Class A (Single A), Class A Short Season, and Rookie. Each of the five tiers provides players with a different level of competition and development.

In the Rookie league, players compete in a shorter season and spend time honing their skills. It’s about development at that stage. Class A Short Season allows college players to play with their college team, then be drafted (first week of June) and signed to be placed in a league. Class A-Advanced plays a full season and is often a second or third promotion for minor league players.

I’ve been to a few Rookie League games (in Grand Junction, CO). The Grand Junction Rockies stadium is always far from sold out and most of the spectators are old men or families looking to spend a weekend afternoon (or evening) outside. It’s a cheap ticket, and at Stocker Stadium, there were fun beer promotions. It’s a shame I wasn’t 21 at the time. I didn’t know that the Rookie League existed until 2013. Shamefully, I had to ask my dad all about it. A few notable former Grand Junction Rockies: Todd Helton, Mike Napoli, David Dahl, and Jon Gray. (The last two are young Rockies players that I had the privilege of actually watching.) My point by mentioning all of that: Most casual baseball fans don’t follow their teams as in-depth as I do. I get that from my dad.


At a Grand Junction Rockies game with Corky the Coyote.

I’ve known for a while the importance of Double-A and Triple-A baseball. Players in Double-A are typically a team’s top prospects. Players can jump from Double-A to the majors because of the competition at this level; they’re playing against other prospects instead of major and minor league veterans in Triple-A. Young players and veterans play at the Triple-A level. There are career minor leaguers, who may have been former prospects that were never quite good enough to earn a spot on the major league roster. On September 1, when the roster expands, Triple-A players on the 40-man roster can be invited to join the team.

So, basically, the Minor League Baseball system is very important. It helps with development. It allows for rehabilitation. It serves as means for scouting. But, you won’t be able to convince me that all baseball fans care about the five tiers of the minor leagues, and that they scout their own teams to see who the team’s future star will be. (This sounds like I’m describing my dad.)

No, it doesn’t make the Omaha Storm Chasers, Pawtucket Sox, Tennessee Smokies, Grand Junction Rockies, or Greenville Drive any less important. And my comment in last week’s post wasn’t supposed to suggest that the minor league system is unsuccessful.

So, I edit my statement. Triple-A baseball does matter; all minor league baseball does. But at what degree you, as a fan, choose to follow each league — that’s up to you. I’m choosing to not stress out if the Omaha Storm Chasers lose a few games. It’s going to happen. (P.S. the Chasers dropped their last six games — don’t panic, please.) And, as most people know, I have to save my energy for the Red Sox, who I’m just hoping don’t implode in these next few months.

I don’t think it’s necessary for every baseball fan to understand all of the logistics of sport. Sure, it makes it more fun, but that’s my personal opinion.

Moving on from Kansas hoops heartbreak


By Heather Nelson

(Published April 4, 2016)

It’s been a week since the Kansas men’s basketball team broke my heart in the Elite 8. Somehow, I knew going to watch the game against Villanova in a public place was a bad omen. I still did it.

In Omaha there aren’t many Jayhawk fans. Most people don’t care much about college basketball, but the ones that do are Creighton fans. (I wonder if those fans were cheering against their conference that night?) So, I stood out at the Buffalo Wild Wings bar. I wore my jersey, Jayhawk Zubaz leggings and tied my “lucky” Kansas sweatshirt around my waist. The restaurant manager joked with me about my team loyalty. (He asked me, “Why Kansas?”, but assured me he wanted them to win it all “for his bracket.”)

I ordered a Cold Snap — maybe that’s where I went wrong — and settled in for the game. Some guys in the back of the bar area mimicked my chants and cheers, but I just waved at them, as if I wasn’t extremely annoyed by their antics. The first half couldn’t have gone much worse. Villanova was dominating, and Kansas couldn’t drain any 3-pointers. It was like I had predicted, “live by the three, die by the three.” But I still had faith.

My prayers went unanswered.

Slowly the game started to slip through Kansas’ fingers. I prayed to James Naismith — the obvious god of basketball — to “please give us a win.” It didn’t work. Kansas lost. I ordered three shots — two Fireball and a Rumchata. I cried. And then, drunk-me realized that the world would be OK.

Of course, I’m still bitter that the Jayhawks lost. I wanted to see this spectacular season complete with a NCAA title win. This team had accomplished so much this year that far exceeded my expectations. Maybe that’s where I got greedy — where most Kansas fans got greedy. We started to really enjoy success. This team earned the University Games gold medal, which was a win against Germany. This team won the Maui Invitational. This team clinched its 12th straight conference title and won the Big 12 conference championship. And finally, this team advanced to the Elite 8.

Bill Self’s Jayhawks gave fans so much to root for this year. Guys like Wayne Selden and Frank Mason, who’ve worked hard to earn starting spots on the team, dominated play. Perry Ellis finished a great senior season.

I saw reports last week saying that Self was to blame for a “disappointing” season. I think it was quite the opposite. Would Self earn coaching honors if he was dragging his team down? No.

Basically, after a week to let that Elite 8 loss soak in, I’m OK.

Spring is often equated to new beginnings. Almost perfectly, — for me at least — baseball season just began. As one season ends, another begins. I won’t be watching the national championship game — mostly because there’s no “lesser of the two evils” in this scenario. My attention has turned to baseball from now until October. College basketball will be waiting for me, then.

Funny how sports break our hearts, but also mend them.

Why being a KU fan sucks (sometimes)


By Heather Nelson

(Published December 14, 2015)

Let me start with a disclaimer. I love the University of Kansas, and I am very proud of my school. There’s always a small portion of each fan base that ruins it for the rest. That’s what this list is for. Here’s why being a Kansas fan sucks, only sometimes.

  1. The “woo” during the Rock Chalk chant: Please for the love of God, STOP THE WOO. (It makes the chant much less eerie, people.)
  2. Kansas State fans: They’re like the little brother who won’t stop annoying us. Kansas fans don’t care about K-State fans. Kansas fans cared about Missouri (not anymore, though, because they left for the SEC).
  3. Roy Williams: Who needs him? Bill Self for President.
  4. Football: Yes, Kansas fans know the football team sucks. No, we don’t need people to remind us that our team is terrible. Yes, we live for basketball season.
  5. Frustration: Sure, Kansas basketball secured the Big 12 title for the past 11 years, but the team has yet to seal a NCAA championship since 2008. C’mon guys.
  6. Josh Selby: Worst one-and-done in the history of one-and-dones.
  7. Elitism: It’s a part of the fandom that comes with the (basketball) program. But, Kansas fans have to admit that we hate losing, and we can all be jerks sometimes.
  8. “What does ‘Rock Chalk’ mean?”: Google it. Thanks.
  9. The school song: Everyone gets the clap during the song wrong. That’s what traditions night in August is for — go and learn it.
  10. Aqib Talib: Who wants to be associated with an eye-poker?
  11. Camping: It’s more of a love/hate relationship. It’s an honor, but if your camping group sucks, basketball season sucks. Trust me, I know.
  12. Uncertainty: Sometimes the best players on the court in the college setting seem to flop in the NBA. (Where’s Xavier Henry? Cole Aldrich? No one cares about Nick Collison…) Side note: At least, Wiggins is starting to make a name for himself.
  13. The Jayhawk: It’s a mythical creature and impossible to explain. (But, I love it.)
  14. Wichita State: Now, these guys are trying to claim the state of Kansas as theirs in basketball. Hmmm…NOPE.
  15. Lawrence: You never wanna leave because it’s such a wonderful place. Everywhere else pales in comparison.